Hikes / Trails, Yosemite National Park
Beneath a torrid sun and milions of flies I reach the summit of that granite wall and after lots of bends on this steep path. I thought that was quite closer the lake but i was wrong... actually to get to the lake you'll walk for 8.4 miles one way and the total elevation gain and loss is 6700 feet. Its a long hike the worse part is the first hours where all is that steep path and after that there are several parts gaining height and descending again.. so its hard for legs.. the second part is amidst a beautiful forest sometimes wet sometimes dry and full of conifers... after that u will reach somethinh that reminds a former lake and all trees are burnt..!!! isolated as i were there u just listen to the music of wind shaking the trees leafs.. its amazing and scary at the same time !! and just after this stage ..meadows and more meadows where u find a fork to Lake Vernon to the right or Laurel lake to the left before to cross the spring (frog creek)... Laure lake appears suddenly to your right, a large lake surrounded by conifers and not much accesible to its banks.. was then when i crossed in front of me (30 meters ahead ) a huge elk quite scary and alone in the forest,... was terrific !!
These pictures are from that moment... the hike was so strenous and it stopped me next day to hike half dome !! next time !!
The area around Tuolumne Meadows is a climbers' paradise full of polished domes, needle-like summits and alpine peaks. And probably the most beautiful and striking peak in that area is Cathedral Peak (some say it is the most beautiful peak in Yosemite, possibly in the entire Sierra Nevada range). The peak is made up of two spires sculpted by ancient glaciers; the western one is called Eichorn Pinnacle. John Muir made the first ascent of Cathedral Peak in 1869 and since then many climbers have followed in his footsteps. The peak has an elevation of 10911 feet (3326 m). The most popular climbing route on Cathedral Peak is the Southeast Buttress route, with a maximum difficulty of class 5.6, however, there is an easier class 4 route which ascends its northwest side, nicknamed "Mountaineer's Route".
In contrast to Mono Lake, Cathedral Lake is high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, north of Yosemite. The hike is about seven miles round trip. It's well worth it. This is one of California's most beautiful lakes.
The "Great Sierra Mine" sounds like a huge operation, doesn't it? Well, it's not much of a mine and certainly not great, but the trail up to it, which skirts the jewel-like Gaylor Lakes, is one of the best short hikes in Yosemite. Four miles round trip which can be done in 2-3 hours, you get a good heart-accelerating ascent then a pleasant meander through high alpine country. At the end of thetrail, you rise above a wind-blown pond that still could be surrounded by snow patches into late August and get to the Great Sierra Mine. The first sign of the mine is the frame of a stone house, built by silver miners around the 1860s or so. Some of the wooden beams can still be seen, as decomposition occurs very slowly at these high altitudes. Further up, you can see collapsed mine shafts and a few more structures, dating from the 19th century. And, if you walk down the other side of the slope, you can have lunch by another lake. All this activity is above 9000 feet, so bring your lungs!
Our journey and goal for this particular hike was to see the Dead Giant, a Sequoia tree that is tunneled in 1878. It's one of the two remaining trees you can still walk through in Yosemite National Park.
But once we arrived at the spot the tree made us very sad; a monarch giant sequoia that has lived at least 1000 years, with a tunnel cut through its base. It's disgusting how early park management would vandalize the trees in this way. While walking through this tree may seem fun, stop for a moment and take a walk in the tree's shoe. It made us a bit angree!
We also learned that the Dead Giant was toppled in 1969, because the tunnel had weakened it. It is estimated to have died 1000 years prematurely.
Have a look at Yosemite National Park Packing List.
Not exactly off the beaten path, but the majority of visitor won't end up here.
Starting at the Happy Isles Nature Reserve, a trail leads up to the start of the Mist Trail, taking you to the bottom of Vernal Falls - which is as far as most people go.
However, if you don't take the turning off to the Mist Trail by it's gates, and continue up, you will eventually reach John Muir point, with views of both Nevada and Vernal Falls below. You can then walk down to the Vernal Falls.
I took the trail in February, and there was only one other person on the trail, plus two trail maintainers ascending to inspect a recent avalanche. Definatly the best time to be here, as the trail was thick with snow and very technical at times.
This is a long and somewhat strenuous hike with the first 5+ miles being all uphill. But the views and solitude are worth it! Just make sure to plan ahead and take plenty of water. Start the hike at the Tunnel View parking lot. Look for a signed trailhead just east of the tunnel on the south side of the road. A big sign tells distances to several viewpoints along the route. If you want a long dayhike or overnight hike, you can hike all the way to Glacier Point on this trail. The hike to Dewey Point and back is just under 11 miles. After a bit of a climb and several switchbacks you cross the old Wawona carriage road. This is the road originally used to access the Valley in the parks younger days. The road was closed when the current day Wawona Road was opened in 1933. The old road joins the new one a little over a mile and a half east of this point and about a third of a mile west of the Bridalview Fall parking lot. Continuing on uphill, you eventually meet up with the old Wawona Road again, this time at Inspiration Point. This is where early travelers got their first views of Yosemite Valley. Today the view is mostly obstructed by trees. Eventually, after a long grueling climb we are rewarded with Old Inspiration Point. This is the point where the Mariposa Battalion first laid its eyes on the valley. The next portion of the trail isn't as steep and you soon reach Stanford Point, the first impressive view down into the west end of Yosemite Valley. Climbing 400 feet in a half mile beyond Stanford Point you reach Crocker Point. From this cliff edge, you can see all the way to the Seirra Crest on the eastern flanks of the park. From here, it's just another 2/3 of a mile to Dewey Point. Some think Crocker Point provides a much more stunning view. You can decide for yourself. From here you can continue on to Bridalvail Creek Campground 5 miles away or continue 11 more miles to Glacier Point. Otherwise, return downhill the way you came to Tunnel View.
Not exactly off the beaten path, but you can avoid climbing half dome of you are hiking south along the John Muir trail. You can go right around it, or take to the face and climb to the top within the hour. It is very steep, but there is protection built into the rock by the park service.
Park at the Bridalveil Fall parking lot and walk about a third of a mile west on the road. Look for a clear area along the south side of the road. This is the old Wawona carriage road. Built in 1875, this road allowed the first visitors access to Yosemite Valley by carriage and automobile in its early days. This road was closed when the current road was built in 1933. Hike up this road for an adventure into history. It's a long steep uphill climb but you'll enjoy perfect solitude as you hike through Yosemite's forests and think about how this trip must of been in the 1900s when it took over 4 days to reach Yosemite from the nearest city. Eventually after a long climb you will reach Inspiration Point where the road rounds a bend. This was the place where early visitors to the park got their first peak at Yosemite Valley. Unfortunately, trees now obstruct this formerly amazing view. From here, the road becomes hard to follow and dangerous. I can't really tell you with good conscience to continue on. I'd hate for something to happen to you. But if you really feel adventurous (and have a good topographical map) go for it! Note however that this road is not an official trail and is not marked on any map that I know of. If you find on that has it, let me know please! To get to Inspiration Point on an official trail, see my tip on Pohono Trail.
Yosemite National Park was set aside by President Abraham Lincol in 1864 as a grant to the state of Califormia, Yosemite Valley and Sequoia Grove were to be "held for public use, resort and recreation". It was the first federal authorization to preserve scenic and scientific values for public benefit and was the basis for the later concept of the state and national park system.
Our last lesson of history at the site of the Dead Giant was that originally a way of publicizing the grove, a tunnel was cut into the tree in the upper grove that allowed cars to drive through. The giant sequoias are the largest trees in the world (by volume) and are related to the coastal redwoods, which are the tallest trees in the world. Standing in front of a Sequoia tree makes you very little indeed. But somehow everything seems larger here, because we saw a few enormous acorns lying on the ground. Larger than 30 centimeters were no exeption.
Have a look at Yosemite National Park Packing List.
In June 2007, I planned to hike Half Dome, but after a hiker had fallen from the cables the week before I was scheduled to go, I decided a guide might be a good idea rather than attempt the hike alone, the first time. I did a Google search and found several options, but chose Y-Explore because I thought it would be a good fit. As it turned out, the experience went far beyond expectations.
John made an excellent hiking companion, he set a good, sustainable pace. We started at Glacier Point, longer than hiking from the Valley but less traffic. It does make for a long day and the last three miles, back up hill, were brutal, but John kept us plugging along (We completed the hike in 11 hours).
The next day John suggested Ostrander Lake as a "recovery" hike and it was an excellent idea!
I returned to Yosemite in September 2007 to do the other major hikes on my list. Two days before I was to leave San Francisco, the first winter storm of the season was predicted during my hiking days. El Capitan was scheduled first -- It was a long day in snow, but we made it to the top of El Capitan and back, about 10 hours. The next day everything was clear as if the snow the previous day had not happened. We hiked to North Dome and the views were spectacular! The third day, the winter storm was back. We hiked through several inches of snow to the peak of Cloud's Rest.
Half Dome was a major personal accomplishment, but the September trip was even better--the snow was so beautiful, a once in a lifetime experience! This was a trip I would have never done without the benefit of a guide--I could not have followed the route alone and it would have been dangerous to attempt it. However, John knew the trail system well enough to guide us through it and kept a sustainable pace throughout the day.
I recently visited Yosemite and had a great experience with a company called Yexplore. They have photographers who take clients out to photograph Yosemite from some amazing places that only a local would know. I was very impressed with my 5 hour session to some of my guide's secret locations. I'm by no means a beginner, but the guide definitely taught me some great techniques for photographing landscapes. The company also has family hiking tours which we did the second day. We hiked on scenic trails that were not very crowded, and the kids loved it. This is a great company and I would recommend them to anyone who wants to go hiking in Yosemite.
Looking at it from this view, its amazing that people can just walk up to the top. But about 1,000 of them do just that every year.
This photo was taken along the short trail to Bridal Veil Falls. These darker grey rocks appear at the base of the falls. They are fun to climb over, but very slippery. Its easy to lose your footing.